Equip and Educate – The State of Public Schools in America
Patriot Mobile’s Equip and Educate event series serves to equip citizens with the tools needed to preserve our union and educate them on all facets of important issues facing America. The events are free of charge to participants and provided as a public service by Patriot Mobile. Admission is granted first as a benefit to Patriot Mobile subscribers and secondarily to local citizens.
The March 2023 Equip and Educate event had two focuses. The first half focused on the History of Education in America, hosted by historians David and Tim Barton of Wallbuilders. The second half of the program included a panel discussion by elected school board trustees from Southlake Carroll, Grapevine Colleyville and Keller Independent School Districts.
“At Patriot Mobile, we know restoring the public school system is vital to saving America,” said Leigh Wambsganss, Patriot Mobile’s Chief Communications Officer, to a theater packed with hundreds of parents. “Unfortunately, in the last few decades, the left has infiltrated our schools on all levels. From the school boards to the administration to the curriculum, a progressive, un-American agenda is being pushed onto our children, focused more on indoctrination than education.”
But this was not the original intent of our Founding Fathers when they founded our public school system. “If you look at the history of early education, there are some basic foundational philosophies that we seem to have discarded over more recent decades,” said Tim Barton. “If you look back anywhere in early American history, there are three things you will consistently find. The first thing was to teach religion and morality – that’s why we started schools. The second thing is to teach thinking skills. The third thing is to instill high expectations.”
Watch the presentation:
So what changed? “The progressives took over in the early 1920s. People like Rockefeller said we don’t need better thinkers, we need better factory workers,” said Tim Barton. “Thinking isn’t a priority, we need them to work, which really means we want them to regurgitate what we want them to memorize.”
The twentieth century saw progressives take over many institutions in America. “Progressives got into everything. Progressives got in the government, they got into higher education, they got in the media, they got into education, and pretty soon they got into the courts as well,” said David Barton. “They said, it’s time to progress past the Constitution, so they pulled prayer out of schools. They said, it’s time to progress past the Bible. We’ve had that for 300 years and it’s time to do something different.”
During the second part of the evening, Wambsganss invited several school board trustees to share their experiences in a panel discussion on the current state of our public schools.
Watch the panel discussion:
Cameron Bryan, President of Southlake Carroll ISD School Board shed light on the issue of school finance. “As you all know, Texas independent school districts are funded primarily through property tax collection. The tax rate is determined by your local school boards which have taxing authority,” said Bryan. Unfortunately, a lot of the money collected from property taxes doesn’t actually go toward the students. “The problem is, the state has established a basic allotment dollar amount per student based on the average daily attendance. That basic allotment of $6,160/student hasn’t been raised since 2019. [Yet] there has been a 14.5% increase in inflation since then.”
Even in property-rich areas like Southlake, the school board is struggling to fund the basic needs of its public school students. Through Texas’ “wealth equalization” policy, 34% of what is collected in Southlake property taxes goes to the state. “We are told the state over-collected by about $850 million last year,” said Bryan. Reports show that this money isn’t all being used for students, but in one instance, $20 million was misused to fund a water park in South Texas. Bryan and the Carroll ISD School Board are working diligently in their ISD and through the Texas Legislature to reform school finance so that the money collected from taxes will directly benefit the students.
Shannon Braun, Vice President of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD School Board, shared her experience fighting to pass commonsense policies. “In GCISD we passed policies that removed social indoctrination and reinforced classical education that was supported by HB3,” said Braun. “We removed racial and sexual identity politics. I describe it as giving the keys back to the moms and dads of their kid’s education. We put them back in the driver’s seat and we also neutralized the classrooms.”
The evidence showed that even in the conservative area, the administration was training teachers on CRT and hosting the training on its website. The students were subjected to obscene and inappropriate sexual lessons. Even though laws were already on the books, the school board still had to pass policies to change what was being taught in the schools.
“Bold leadership pays off!” Braun concluded. “Our natural tendency is to not be bold. We have fear of being sued, of being called names, of getting canceled. Doing what is right is never wrong. Don’t be scared of the name-calling. Be bold and lead!”
Micah Young, a Trustee of Keller ISD School Board, shared his experience taking a bold stance against sexually explicit books. The policy that the school board passed made national news last year. “The policy itself when you read it does two really big things,” Young explained. “Number one, it puts the books to be ordered online for 30 days prior to the board approval of those books. It also gives control back into the parents’ hands and that’s what we wanted to do.”
“We ended up taking the penal code and blending it into the policy and that was what was missing beforehand. It’s illegal to show kids terrible books. It’s illegal to put those things in the hands of children,” said Young.
Young also shared what the school board did to address school security. “My mind just can’t even comprehend why any parent would not want their children to be protected by a well-trained, armed person in their schools,” said Wambsganss. Young agreed, voicing his support for the “Guardian Program” the school board implemented late last year which allows teachers and staff to carry guns on campus. “We looked at past incidents across the country. Dr. [John] Lott is a great scientist who tracks a lot of the mass shootings that happen around the country. His statistics show that about 90% of mass shootings happen in gun-free zones.”
A child was killed every two seconds in the Sandy Hook school shooting. “It takes an average of five minutes for police to arrive, which was unacceptable to us,” said Young. The ISD doubled the number of police officers in the district and implemented the Guardian Plan to ensure that every school had a well-trained, well-educated person carrying a firearm. “The good news is there’s over 35% of Texas school districts that already currently use this program, so there are resources out there,” said Young.
Patriot Mobile thanks David and Tim Barton and CISD School Board President Cam Bryan, GCISD School Board Vice President Shannon Braun and KISD School Board Trustee Micah Young for sharing their knowledge and experiences. We also thank our co-sponsors, Wallbuilders, Texas Values, and Mercury One, for making our first Equip and Educate event a success, and our guests for joining us.